Share post:


[thePipeLine: Base image CC0 via Wikipaedia]

- Advertisement -

Current understanding is that the Senate of the University of Sheffield will not actually take a vote on a substantive motion regarding the controversial recommendation to end archaeology teaching at Sheffield in its current form. Therefore there is some uncertainty about precisely how Senate will actually pass on its advice about the future of Sheffield’s Archaeology Department to University Council.

thePipeLine would like to offer a suggestion to resolve this conundrum.

In acknowledgement of the reported comments of Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Gill Valentine that to reduce A-level grade tariffs for archaeology could lead to Aldi quality students diluting a Marks And Spencer quality University brand, thePipeLine proposes Senate adopts the rules of the much loved game show “Supermarket Sweep” when it meets on Wednesday afternoon.

Now join your host, the Chair of Senate, and University Vice Chancellor, Professor Koen Lamberts, as you

“Step inside a very special supermarket – Sheffield University, [not] the only supermarket in the world that gives you a degree in exchange for a lot of money!” 

and Play,


Like its TV inspiration Supermarket Sweep, which is based on playing games, rampant commercialism and consumer products, Educationmarket Sweep is also based on playing games, rampant commercialism and treating Higher Education as a consumer product.

However, instead of trying to price up products and sweep them off the shelves, in Educationmarket Sweep all the games relate to process, policy and data, and the prizes are, on the one hand, the chance to deliver challenging degrees, developing students who question the world we live in and make a positive contribution to society and, on the other, to win those prized premium products, tuition fees, research grants and a framed certificate signed by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak.

The more points each team score, the more time they have to implement their policies, saving jobs and the University’s reputation as an academic body belonging to the people of Sheffield, or buying up students.

As Koen might say, “Shoppers!”

“Let’s check’em out and go wild in the aisles” [or at least as wild as you can get on Zoom], with the first game…

- Advertisement -

[Copyright reserved]

Counting Calories

The first game is all about how many calories members of Archaeology Department staff can burn up creating departmental plans which are never read by the Faculty or senior management, plans for new courses which are never adopted, and job descriptions for new staff posts which are approved and then cancelled?

Extra calories are awarded for proposals which have to be rewritten more than once before being ignored.

Pik ‘n’ Mix:

Students on Senate are asked to Pik’n’Mix archaeology modules and the tutors who will teach them- but will they pik modules which are continuing and tutors who are going to keep their jobs?

In Betweens

Archaeology Masters and PhD students have been caught in between their commitment to a University with a world class reputation and often to particular research supervisors and the University managers intention to make redundant a large number of academic staff and specialist support workers.

In this game Senate asks the Deputy Vice Chancellor what are the actual arrangements for students completing Masters and PhD’s?

The Deputy Vice Chancellor can gain points for each reference to a specific subject area, properly supported specialised facility, reference collection, and expert member of staff which are to be retained.

Points are deducted for the use of phrases such as “fair, robust and transparent processes”, “meaningful consultation”, “…support students collectively and individually”, and “We retain the right to make minor adjustments and improvements to programmes and module content…”

Use of the phrase “We have experience of managing this process successfully” results in immediate disqualification from the round.


Senate is given the total of number student recorded in the report of the Archaeology Review Group and has to decide if the total ignores overseas students and students who enter through non UCAS routes, such as Foundation Years, and whether such a use of data would achieve a pass mark in an undergraduate assignment?

[Bonus points are available for anyone who can state how many professional archaeologists the UK is currently short, and how many of those posts could be filled by Sheffield graduates?]

Pick a Pair

Senate is asked to name a pair of English Universities which already teach Forensic Archaeology and which each provided an academic to act as an impartial external advisor to the Sheffield Archaeology Review Group.
NB: Coincidentally the Review Group concluded Sheffield should not enter the market for Forensic Archaeology.

The Random Reveal

Senate is asked to listen to the feedback about their experience from a sample of undergraduate and post graduate students from the Archaeology Department, and then listen to their reaction when it is randomly revealed afterwards that their testimony might be used to justify closing their Department.

The Reverse Reveal

The Head of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities is asked to reveal which two departments in the Faculty currently operate with a larger deficit than Archaeology and why they too are not being reviewed with a view to closure?

[Bonus points are available if it is revealed they are under such Review.]

Scrambled Letters

Senate has to unscramble the message contained in these letters.


The Managers Special

Somewhere in the University management have hidden a secure academic tenure with a good salary, proper professional support, a reasonable teaching load, and study leave.

Can the staff players in Senate find it?

The Memory Game

The Deputy Vice Chancellor is asked to remember who “instructed” the Secretary of the Archaeology Review Group to “dispose of” notes and other material related to the review of the Archaeology Department, contrary to the University policy for the retention of documents?

To earn a bonus point the Deputy Vice Chancellor is also asked to remember who “instructed” the Secretary of the Archaeology Review Group to withhold the Review Report from the Head of the Archaeology Department.

And finally…

The Higher or Lower Bonus

In this Bonus Round the Deputy Vice Chancellor is asked to set A-Level grades for students joining the Archaeology Department.
The Chair then asks members of Senate to choose whether the grades are “Higher or Lower” than the actual grades offered?
If “Higher” wins the University can exclude students who shop at Aldi.
If “Lower” wins the Archaeology Department can recruit a sustainable level of students.

Of course, in ITV’s Supermarket Sweep the contestants also risk penalties for,

  • Leaving behind dropped items in the store and,
  • Breaking items from the store.

Sheffield Senate Educationmarket Sweep is no different.

However, it remains to be seen if and how the University and its senior managers will be penalised for leaving behind Archaeology as a teaching department after fifty years, or breaking the morale of staff and students in Archaeology and the School of Languages and Cultures as they described at their Rally to Save the Arts and Humanities.

In the original television version of Supermarket Sweep there was also a penalty for “banging into a cameraman”.

That rule will not be used in Sheffield Senate Educationmarket Sweep, because the presence of a cameraman would indicate that the process of deciding the fate of Archaeology and Culture at the University of Sheffield is open and transparent.

Following the meeting of Senate, the Council of Sheffield University meets to decide the final fate of the Archaeology Department on 12 July [2021].

The rules for that meeting are reported to be One Person One Vote.

thePipeLine understands there is no truth in the rumour that the person with the vote is Deputy Vice Chancellor Gill Valentine.

But we may be wrong.

- Advertisement -

Share post:

thePipeLine is an independent news publication that investigates the place that heritage, politics, and money meet.

Related articles


The UK General Election matters for Archaeology and Heritage because the politicians are elected who will shape and...


Why did journalist and pseudo archaeologist Graham Hancock ever agree to appear on the Joe Rogan Experience to...


In February a row broke out within the UK's principle membership body for archaeologists, the Chartered Institute for...


The Conservative MP for the Black Country constituency of Dudley North, Marco Longhi has introduced his Heritage Public...